Sunday, November 24, 2013

Reminder: Literary Reading Tuesday, 5:00 p.m., Ewha Womans University, ECC B235

This coming Tuesday is the day of my literary reading from my novella -- details available upon clicking the poster. I've added some prefatory words about the artist and illustrator, Terrance Lindall, which I will read in conjunction with a showing of the first three slides:

Slide 1 (not an image, just the title and mine and Lindall's names):

The Bottomless Bottle of Beer
Story by Horace Jeffery Hodges
Illustrated by Terrance Lindall

As you see, my story is titled The Bottomless Bottle of Beer, and it's illustrated by Terrance Lindall. Perhaps some of you have heard of Lindall, for he's a somewhat renowned American artist and illustrator whose work appeals to both popular and high culture. Thus, his art has appeared on the covers of such magazines as Creepy and Heavy Metal, but also on the covers of scholarly books. For instance, two different illustrations by Lindall of scenes from John Milton's Paradise Lost appear on covers of The Complete Poetry and Essential Prose of John Milton and The Cambridge Companion to Paradise Lost, the latter book being a publication of Cambridge University Press. Additionally, Lindall is co-director and chief administrator of the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Slide 2 (also viewable here):

You see here Lindall's illustration for the cover of my story. I should first state that I gave Lindall complete artistic freedom with the illustrations, so the images don't always strictly correspond to the words. Let's take a brief look at these images on this cover. The book lying flat on the shelf has the title Areopagitica written along its spine. That's the title of a long essay by John Milton defending free thought, free expression, and free publication -- in short, a defense against censorship -- and this essay is considered one of the great works in the struggle for free speech in the West. There's no reference to Areopagitica in my story, but thanks to individuals like Milton, a book such as mine is able to see publication. Next to the book stands a bottle of Shoggoth's Old Peculiar, the bottomless bottle of beer that plays a major role in the story as the "sad instrument of all our woe." I realize that's oblique, but you'll soon understand. Beside the bottle sits a grim reminder of our greatest woe, our mortality. It's literally a memento mori, "the skull beneath the skin," and topped off with a burning candle to remind us that our time is short. And not only our time! The quote upon this low shelf states, "For he knoweth his time is short." That comes from Revelation 12:12 and refers to Satan, who has been unleashed upon the world, but just for a short time, which only serves to exacerbate his malice and thereby provides a motive to his practice of driving hard bargains, such as the Faustian ones that we often read about in Western literature. Neither the skull nor the quote from Revelation appear in my story, but Lindall has nonetheless provided a fitting interpretation of my tale. As for the rats, they do appear in the story, as a case of mistaken identity . . . though I didn't quite imagine the top rat to look like Hitler! Finally, I call attention to the quote from Dostoevsky's famous book, The Brothers Karamazov: "I am Satan, and nothing human is alien to me." Quite a fitting quote for a story of this sort.
Slide 3:

Dostoevsky is, in fact, one of my favorite writers, and I read all of his books many years ago, so as a tribute to him, I've titled each of my book's eight chapters after a different book of his and found a devilish quote from each of those books to follow each chapter title. This first chapter is titled Notes from Underground, followed by a relevant quote: "The devil only knows what desire depends upon . . ." In this illustration, we see the naïve protagonist -- let's call him "The Naif" -- walking along the cobblestone street toward the shop wherein he will meet his doom. That's described in the story. But the woman holding the Shoggoth's, a seductress in this Faustian tale, does not appear in the story's first scene. Lindall has placed her here at the opening of the story as foreshadowing. That's his interpretation, but it fits. And now, without further ado, the story begins . . .
But I end here . . . for now . . . though you can read further with Amazon's free preview . . .

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At 12:32 AM, Blogger Carter Kaplan said...

There really should be a drinking song called, "The Bottomless Bottle of Beer." Kind of a rollicking sea shanty with clever allusions to Russian literature.

At 1:57 AM, Blogger Terrance Lindall said...

I would bet Peter Dizozza could write it. That's his kind of music. I wanted him to do a musical play based on the book. Something for October Beer Festival at the WAH Center. Terrance

At 3:31 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Oh - if the ocean were vodka
and I were a duck,
I'd dive to the bottom
and drink my way up!

My vodka, my vodka,
my vodka I cry . . .
If I don't have my vodka,
I surely will die!

The allusions to Russian literature are subtle, I admit, but the spirit of that literature is surely present.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 6:15 AM, Blogger Carter Kaplan said...

I propose we crack open some bottomless bottles and give it a whirl!


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